Steven Fox wants to put this week into slow motion.
The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga senior sat in the audience and watched Phil Mickelson take questions from the mass media before stepping on stage and staring into the bright lights for his own session as the reigning U.S. Amateur champion.
"I want every day to go as slow as possible," Fox said after playing nine holes in the morning with Graeme McDowell, Henrik Stenson and British Amateur champion Alan Dunbar. "I don't want to leave this place, but eventually, hopefully on Sunday, I'll be leaving."
Fox's plans include a quick stroll around the back nine this morning before joining the Par-3 Contest gala in a star-studded grouping. He's playing today with Tennessee native Brandt Snedeker, who is ranked No. 5 in the world, and No. 4 Luke Donald.
Fox is No. 29 in the World Amateur Golf Rankings based largely on his comeback victory from 2 down with two holes to play against Michael Weaver in the U.S. Amateur last August. They both earned invitations to Augusta by reaching the finals at Cherry Hills Golf Club.
"About three weeks ago is when it sunk in and when the Masters crept up," Fox said. "And it's like, 'Now, oh boy, the time has come.'
"It's been good so far. I'm just really excited to be here."
Practicing with Phil Mickelson, Jason Dufner and Keegan Bradley was educational.
"[Mickelson] would show me putts that nobody knows about but Phil," Fox said. "His little back book that he has, it's really phenomenal what he has in there from all the years he's played. He showed me around a bit, and the best advice was just staying patient -- one shot at a time and knowing where to miss."
Playing in the 10:34 a.m. group Thursday with defending champion Bubba Watson and Ryder Cup star Ian Poulter just ahead of the group including Tiger Woods will be a different situation for Fox.
It no will longer be all fun and side bets. The competition begins.
"I guess the galleries will be different with Tiger playing behind me on Thursday and [me] playing with Bubba," Fox said. "I enjoy playing when there's crowds.
His caddie may not be 100 percent ready. But as Ben Rickett, the former UTC assistant coach who carried Fox's bag for the final 19 holes at the U.S. Am, said, he doesn't have a choice.
"If you're going to get the Masters experience, you may as well get it full throttle," Rickett said over the phone. "Other than playing with Tiger, playing in front of him is pretty cool because that's where the crowds are going to be.
"It's going to be an experience, one that I can't wait for."
Watson, who has a few things on his docket before striking his first shot, will be ready for Fox.
"I'm trying to beat him just like everybody else, and he's trying to beat me just like everybody else," Watson said in his news conference. "I never played in the U.S. Amateur, so obviously he could tell me a couple things, and I could tell him some things.
"If he asks me questions, I'll talk to him. And the more birdies I make, the more I like to talk."
David Uchiyama is a sports writer at the Chattanooga Times Free Press who began his tenure here in May 2001. His primary beats are UTC athletics — specifically men’s basketball and athletic department administration — and golf, which includes coverage from the PGA Tour to youth events. He also covers other high school sports, outdoor adventures, and contributes to other sections of the newspaper when necessary. David grew up in Salinas, Calif., and began working ...